The Toddler turned two last week and we had a little party at home with a buffet tea and a birthday cake. I went shopping that morning to get the food we needed and it was there I encountered problems. I stood in the birthday cake aisle looking at the different cakes. They had a pink Barbie cake or a pink Hello Kitty cake or a pink Peppa Pig cake. I picked up the Peppa cake when I saw they also had a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. The Toddler loves Thomas. Whenever she sees him she gleefully shouts “Thomas! Toot toot!” However, I hesitated. The Thomas cake was so obviously aimed at boys from it’s blue packaging to the fact Thomas is a train. I held both cakes and looked from one to the other. I actually agonised over which cake would be the better choice for my little girl! Then I gave myself a slap and defiantly thought “why shouldn’t my daughter like Thomas?” I put the Thomas cake in the trolley and went to pay.
The lovely girl on the checkout clocked the birthday cake and asked how old my little boy would be. When I told her my daughter would be two she glanced at the cake before telling me they did a nice Barbie cake for the same price. With a polite smile I explained I wanted Thomas, paid and left the store.
All the way home I couldn’t stop thinking about the cake and why it was such an important issue. The only difference between the Peppa Pig cake and the Thomas cake was food colouring! The icing was still thick, sickly and rather disgusting (as most kids birthday cakes tend to be). Both had the same basic sponge in the middle. Both contained a hell of alot of sugar. The only difference was Thomas was blue and Peppa was pink. When did everything become so gender defined?
The party went well and The Toddler loved her Thomas cake. She ate far too much sugar, got spoilt rotten with lots of lovely presents and flaked out completely at bedtime. However, that damn cake has opened my eyes to how gender specific children’s items have become. The fact that I hesitated over the cake shows I’m guilty of it too. Why are we limiting our children’s choices purely because of their sex?
If you stand in any kids clothing store you will easily spot the girls clothes. They are mainly pink and have princesses, rainbows and ponies on them. The boys side is predominantly blue with dinosaurs, pirates, trains and cars on them. What are we teaching our children? That boys can’t like ponies and girls will never be train drivers? What if my girls want to be paleontologists? Professional footballers? Mechanics? Why are we limiting these choices at such a young age?
Well, I say “screw it!” If my daughter wants to like Thomas then she can like Thomas and if that means I’ll be doing my Christmas shopping in the boys section then so be it. I intend to tell my girls they can be anything they want to be. They can be nurses OR doctors. The choice is up to them. I just hope the consumer world gets out of it’s ’50’s mindset and realises that gender doesn’t define people. Girls can like Thomas too!